I was lucky enough to see the fantastic new production of East Is East in Brighton a few weeks ago, right at the start of the tour. I love the show, so I was delighted to be offered tickets opening night at The Churchill Theatre, Bromley this week and see how the show had matured in the few weeks it has been on the road!
My full review of the show in Brighton can be read here and it was exciting to see how the show adapted to The Churchill’s comparatively vast auditorium. The show, for those not familiar, tells the story of the Khan family and the struggles their complicated relationships face within the setting of 1970s Salford.
A few weeks into their tour, the cast of East Is East have grown into their characters, and with a lively audience on Monday night, the show took on a whole new spirit compared to the production I had seen in Brighton (which I still enjoyed a lot!). The relationship between Ella and George was as sensitive and loving as it was brutal and confusing, and the Khan siblings played well off each other – the dialogue tripping over itself as their individual personalities fought to come through.
The Churchill also organised a workshop for members of their youth theatre group to hear from the cast of East Is East. This was an opportunity to ask questions and explore how the cast had worked on bringing the dialogue of Ayub Khan-Din from page to stage. The discussions ranged from which dramatic technique was best to use, to how you find that perfect Salford accent. The youth theatre group were given the opportunity to work on two scenes from East Is East with Darren who plays Maneer and Ashley who plays Tariq. By exploring the character dynamic of the two scenes, the workshop participants were able to begin understanding the plot of the play, and exactly how each character fits into the Khan family.
The play itself focuses on some intense themes of culture and diversity in Britain, both in the 70s and today as well as closely examining the complicated relationships within a family. By exploring this with Darren and Ashley, the importance of East Is East as a piece of iconic British theatre became yet more apparent. Humour is used throughout the play, even at its darkest moments, to bond the family together, and to bring the audience into their Salford living room.
If you’re able to see East Is East during its 2015 tour then I urge you to do so. Filled with moments that will make you laugh, as well as some poignant messages about family and relationships, it is a play that deserves to reach many many people.